Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Magnetic movement trays and storage

I started doing this after a "prompt" from my missus: "Your models and little men are starting to take up too much room under the bed; I'd like to get some space back for my shoes". Now I was quite happy to be given a hobby related task by my lovely wife and of course I really wanted to ensure she has enough shoe space, so last night I set about trying to rectify the problem.

A lot of my models are in those sponge GW cases which whilst protecting well, do take up a lot of space for a small number of models. Also when they are stored in them, I can't see them and glance over my handy work. I tested the waters with view on getting a Display Glass Cabinet, but it was not met with much enthusiasm - and she does have a point, we don't really have anywhere to put it, certainly not until I get my man shed...

So I got hold of some big plastic storage boxes, found my old bits of sheet and strip magnets as well as my paper steel and set about making some magnetised movement trays that would then in turn be magnetised to the bottom of the storage boxes. Below you can see me working on my ogre unit as an example:

The thin steel paper has a self adhesive layer and was trimmed to fit inside the movement tray which I had already made. Thankfully (from experience) I had the foresight to make the lip of the tray higher than necessary so that the additional layers and bulk of magnet and steel wouldn't leave the models higher than the tray's lip.

Self-adhesive magnets were cut and applied to the bottom of the base.

Some steel paper was then applied to the bottom of the movement tray. In future I would consider actually making the entire movement tray out of steel, so as to skip two of these steps, but for now I'm adjusting what I already have.

The finished, fully magnetised unit.

And in the storage box. I've used strips of magnetic tape across the width of the bottom of the box, again self-adhesive and the movement tray is now firmly positioned in the box. 

Here you can see some further progress with other units. This is box 1 of 2. This box is my "Allied/Mercenary Factions" box; Chaos Allies with Centaurs, Minotaurs, Chaos Dwarves and of course the Ogres. I'll be adding Orcs and Goblins, a Giant and a Dragon to this box.

Next up is my Lost and the Damned Nurgle Army, containing all the units that are represented in the army list from that tome. (Hence why Centaurs and Minotaurs have become Allies). Some Plague Knights, Skeletons, Diseased Flagellants a War Altar and a Plague Cart all need to be added to this box.
So magnetising all of this will take some more evenings, but hey, I was asked to do it! 

(ps. it hasn't saved a great deal of space under the bed, perhaps enough for two extra pairs of shoes, but it is certainly tidier and allows me to take out the box and have a look over my creations...). Win win!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Goblinoid Combat Cards - sculpting shields

As I toil away on a few other, quite large projects, I decided this weekend to have a break from painting and break out the greenstuff. I wanted to make the shields on my recreations of the Goblinoid combat cards, in relief, as I've always admired the shields of Kev Adams and Fraser Grey who did this originally. It's a chance to test my sculpting skills and to add my own twist to the iconic Goblinoids rather than a direct copy of the originals, which is what Jeff is doing in his same project (he started way before me though). The skin colour, when I come to paint these, will also be in my own style rather than the lurid greens on display on the cards.

When sculpting, I used very small blobs of greenstuff in the way that I watched Kev Adams work last summer. Building up in small increments from lowest areas to most raised seemed to make sense. Using some small sculpting tools I was able to shape the forms of the face before adding a last layer of detail when all the base work was complete and solid.

So first up, with an actual bead for a beady eye; a jolly shield, winking at us:

Followed by a backhanding, horned skull:

(Halfway through sculpting this, I realised that the horned skeleton was posed giving a backhand slap - needless to say it was way too difficult to sculpt this!)

And then the epitome of angry and evil:

And finally a burning skull:

This was a fun few hours/afternoon's worth of work and working on such a small scale has given me some added confidence going forward with my sculpting. The next shields I'll sculpt will be more in the Fraser Grey style, much more rounded, smooth and exaggerated features...

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Bestiary of the Exalted and the Unfortunate

Quite a while ago, over at the Oldhammer Forum, I signed up for a community project to create a conversion for each of the entries from the list of random Champions found in the Lost and the Damned book - a serious undertaking! There are already a host of excellent and imaginative conversions and paint jobs on that thread, so the standard is set pretty high.

I chose this particular entry with a host on interesting attributes to create, for my first go:

160 --- Dwarf --- Horrible stench, all arms tentacles, multiple heads (3), bestial face on 2 heads (goat) and featureless head on 3rd

I had an unwanted Marauder Dwarf troll-slayer lying around ready to be mutilated! Only recently I was reminded of my participation and so therefore bought my conversion out of the depths of my "to paint" tray and, well painted him:

I went for a realistic skin tone and alternative blonde/ginger hair for the beards and hairstyles so as to not make the model too busy with lots of bold and vibrant colours. The cool blue of the trousers were deliberately chosen to counter the other warm colours used.

The conversion was pretty simple really; some careful snipping off of his arms, some delicate gouging of his eyes and nose followed by some wire pinned into position for where the tentacles would go. The two beastmen heads were glued in place and some greenstuff used to sculpt the tentacles around the wire armature. The weapons were finally added and then all the gaps were filled and some additional hair sculpted to hide some of the unsightly gaps between the multiple heads.

His backstory?:

From a young age Bromni eschewed all contact with his kin; their mundane conversations, lowly ambitions and monotony of routine angered him. As soon as was possible he up and left, leaving his family without even a goodbye. He had decided to go on grand adventures, explore the world and live life to the full. It was of course destiny that he should eventually join up with a cult of dwarfs known as Trollslayers; those destructive warriors that look to defeat their enemies or face certain death. Working alone with just their axe as company. This was perfect for Bromni.

And he was good at it. Trolls were slain and his reputation as a fierceome slayer grew. He hated the adulation that he started to receive - other adventurers seeking him out, wealthy Dwarves looking to offer him money to fight their enemies, so it was unsurprising that Bromni withdrew further from civilisation and wandered further north into the chaos wastes looking for a true fight. 

Everything changed for him one fateful day. He had tracked down a group of trolls to a marsh somewhere in the realm of chaos. But, unbeknownst to Bromni these trolls were led by a powerful sorcerer. Bromni slayed the seven trolls after a fierce fight and was cleaning his axe when the sorcerer returned from an errand. He feigned ignorance of the trolls and instead showed Bromni exaggerated respect and offered the young dwarf an ale. Over the ale the sorcerer skillfully asked questions of Bromni and discovered his desire to fight bigger foes and his disdain for company. The sorcerer saw his opportunity to punish the Dwarf, casting a multiple head spell, where the heads of the next two enemies slain by the dwarf would begin to grow next to his own head. It was not long after this chance meeting that Bromni slayed a warband of beastmen and of course the heads of two of these beasts began to appear from his shoulder. The horror of this situation broke the young dwarf and he wandered for days with the constant chatter and braying of the beastmen always accompanying his every waking moment. It was of course no surprise when the sorcerer re-appeared and offered Bromni salvation as a follower of his chaos god. The path to damnation was set....

Monday, 6 March 2017

Retinue table challenge - 4 Harpies

Another one finished for my Lost and the Damned Retinue Table Challenge - D4 Harpies. Only the Minotaurs and Skaven to go now before I'm done.

I've been enjoying getting back into my converting, rather than just painting old miniatures and this was no exception. The Goblins from the LotR range are nicely mutated with some interesting shapes, textures and poses to play with. I simply removed all the weapons to go for a more feral appearance and substitute them with some bones and heads to show their primitive and evil ways. The wings are from a variety of sources (all bitzbox) as I'm trying not to buy any new models for a while and work on the backlog. The curved wings on models 1 and 3 are from some Reaper Bones female statue/angels that I had knocking around and model 2's I believe are from a Dark Angels sprue and the model 4 from an old dwarven banner top.

I had previously considered a range of different models to create the Harpy look, but none of them really fitted too well with the Nurgle theme of my growing collection. I nearly went down the more feminine/avian look, with sculpted boobs and claw feet from plaguebearers, but realised quite quickly that this was a lot of extra work for very little return. Who says Harpies have to be female? A small compromise (and to add some gender ambiguity) I sculpted some longer hair!

This is my first attempt at basing flying models, I only briefly contemplated using the transparent, plastic flying stands before thinking along more creative lines. Initially I was thinking of having them perched in trees, or about to fly from a branch, but the prospect of making four trees from wire was a bit daunting and could easily look shit. A much easier solution was to create rocky outcrops from some extruded foam off-cuts from my dungeon tile project. With a pva/sand coating they were quickly textured to look like rock faces. Easy. I just had to delve into my diminishing pile of skulls for the final decoration to the bases.

WIP - you can see the small conversions and the extruded foam/sand combo for rock form and texture

The image that inspired my idea - apologies for not being able to give credit to the creator, but my these are awesome.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Forstgrave bestiary challenge - rats and a blood crow

Sometimes the smallest creatures can provide a whole lot of nice detail to a game. You have to have rats lurking in a corner of a dungeon or creeping around some barrels of a street corner. And of course the lowly adventurer likes an early, easy kill. The crow certainly adds a bit of flavour, not just with it's dark, brooding and menacing pose but with the addition of a perch - in this case a damaged signpost for the city of Felstad. 

The Rats are Reaper bones (very cheap with just enough detail), the dark three primed black, highlighted up with greys/browns on the fur and a touch of Elf Flesh - Bleached Bone on the skin. Albino rat was primed white, washed with Baal Red and then highlighted up with very pale pinks (from a Titallating Pink base with added white).

The crow is from the metal Nurgle Lord kit and has been in my bitz box for years (quite surprisingly as he adds a fair bit of character and could have been used for a whole host of conversions or basing/scenery). Well he gets his time as his own model now, rather than supporting another and was painted onto a black primer, highlighted up with some greys and then glazed with some blues and purples. The wooden sign was kept deliberately pale with Graveyard Earth as a base and highlighted with very pale greys. After the freehand writing was applied it was washed with some greens and browns to create a weathered look.

Some quick paint jobs but pleasing to cross off another two requirements for my Frostgrave Bestiary Challenge.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The BitzBox Warband

It started as a personal quest in October 2015, to be creative with my BitzBox, whilst ensuring all conversions were clearly steeped in the style of RoC. A year and a half later it is now complete and I'm very happy with how it turned out:

But it doesn't stop here. This warband will be absorbed into my growing Lost and the Damned Nurgle    Army and my love of converting and kitbashing has been re-ignited. It just so happens that I've stumbled upon a new direction; AoS28. A return to the pathetic aesthetic in a grim dark style with a focus on character and conversion - perfect for me. It all takes me back to a 10 year old (and unfinished) project of mine (Rensburg).

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

BitzBox Warband Champion on Palanquin

This BitzBox warband project had been on hold (and forever pushed further down the painting queue) largely due to this fella. It was great fun to kitbash and convert; delving into my box of bits to create a new palanquin and leader, but the thought of painting the bastard was daunting to say the least.

But I've done it and as usual it was never as bad as I had expected or built it up (a bit like public speaking). 

So here he is; Seth Spawnbloat. Level 10 Human. Champion of Nurgle. Infestation of Nurlings. Atrophied Arm, Enormously Fat. Palanquin, Shield, Warhammer

I primed the whole thing black (to make sure it was dark in-between all the nurglings) and then used a zenithal application of white from above. I much prefer using my ink washes/glazes over a white undercoat and then building up the subsequent highlights over the top of that.

With the Nurglings I used a limited palette of just yellow, green and orange inks (some mixed together) to keep all of the nurglings unified in colour. After the various washes were dry I highlighted up, which was a pretty tiresome effort.

The wooden areas were washed and glazed with a variety of greys and pale browns for the baser colour and then highlighted up with pale greys to try and create a weathered and old looking wood effect. A final addition of some subtle green glazes were applied to give a slightly mossy look to the wood. The idea being that a slightly green tinge to the wood would be complemented by the orangy/red rust colour on the metal areas.

The writhing mass of bodies on the throne (which was fun to make) created a few challenges. I wanted to make them look like they were the same colour as the wood, so that they were actually part of the throne, but this time highlighted up with a little Elf Flesh so as to give them a bit of a warmer skin tone.

You may have noticed the tattered awning surrounding the palanquin. This was an addtition that I expected to make as there was a slightly annoying gap between nurglings and palanquin that ruined the illusion of the mass of nurglings lifting the dais. To mask this I added this decoration and deliberately made it look tatty, both by ripping the paper and washing several layers of grungy sepias, browns and greens.

The images on the awning are taken directly from the page borders found in the Lost and the Damned.

Likewise the banner behind the champion. My first idea was to use a crow illustration from the Fighting Fantasy books but it looked a bit lost on amongst so much else. The black lining could not really compete with the busy-ness of the model. So I painted over it with the most iconic Nurgle image possible, Les Edward's original illustration for the Lost and the Damned itself - just on a tiny scale!

It actually wasn't as hard to do as I though it might be. Once I had added some thin layers of background colour, I went about sketching the outline of the GUO onto the background with diluted black and then added the shadows with Rhinox brown, before building up successive highlights with a range of pale greens and yellows. I then re-emphasised the shadows and added some spots of pinky/red for the sores.

The champion himself needed to stand out amongst the colours I'd already used and I'd already decided that I wanted him to look quite pale. I ended up going a bit pinker than expected, only to make him pop from all the other colours. 

Writing this all out does always make me realise just how much internal thinking occurs when painting models, an ongoing internal monologue.

The final element to complete was the shield and again I wanted to create a nice contrast with the warmer colours of the champ, so I hit the demonic shield with the baby-blue treatment and a bit of subtle purple on the tongue and yellow on the horn to mimic the warmth of the flames higher up in the composition.

So has the painted version lived up to my expectations? Those expectations were pretty damn high after being so proud of the actual build of this model and I have to say that I think the paint job does the model justice. I'm certainly happy with all the decisions I made and the composition and balance of the whole piece holds up. I know I'll never be the best painter around, but this is up there with my very best.

Hope you enjoy it too. I'll post up some photos of the finished bitzbox warband later..

Friday, 10 February 2017

A small restoration project - St. George and the Dragon

I originally painted these two when the Green Knight was first released by GW back in the early 90's (I believe). It was a diorama that I had intended to enter for Golden Demon (I never did) which used to have a plinth with a matching base (now lost), to show the story of George and the Dragon. It was largely inspired by Paolo Uccello's and Raphael's "St. George and the Dragon" the former of which resides at the National Gallery, London. I thought the Green Knight was a great Citadel miniature with a dynamic pose, crisp, detailed sculpting and characterful for a human model, I still think this today. 

So I recently found these in a box back at my parents house and they were a bit battered to be honest. Chipped paint everywhere, flaking paint on the dragon's wings (where they had been bent), dust, broken sword and a missing shield to name the worst of the problems.

So I set about restoring them. Now I was so keen to get involved in this process that I forgot to take any pictures of their condition, which I'm very annoyed at myself for, however if you look closely enough at the wings on the dragon you can see the texture of the cracks/flakes still. Obviously I could have stripped the paint and started the process from scratch, but I was keen to keep my original paint job (20-something years old and two of the few models that I still own from my original teenage hobby time), consolidate the issues and make some minor improvements to the original paint work.

After the models had been carefully dusted with a soft make-up brush (the wifes!) the Knight had his sword pinned back into position and then re-painted, originally I had painted it green, I think to keep a link to the Green Knight, but it looked terrible and so instead I plumped for a kind of purple nmm style. A new (Elven?) shield was attached and painted - this is the same shield design that I originally used as I liked the dragon emblem. I have updated the painting of the armour, the original painting was quite poor (I hadn't mastered metals at this time in my development) and very dull black, so I went for a layered gold effect, starting with dark bronze and working through copper and eventually gold highlights. A bit of touching up on the horse flesh and barding was also needed.

The dragon required a bit more work. I had to initially carefully reshape the wings which had been bent, this did result in some more paint flaking away. I stabilised this by using some dilute pva which ran underneath the flakes and when dried consolidated beneath the cracks. A really thin fill of putty was added to the missing areas of paint so that there was not such a large "step" in thickness between paint/primer and bare metal. 

The lance was intentionally broken (the missing section was a part of the base) and the dragon itself needed a lot of touching up. Trying to match the colours was quite simple - I could pretty much identify the colours I'd previously used (for example it was clear that Bestial Brown was the base coat for the fleshy stomach and it had been highlighted/layered with increasing amounts of elf flesh). I still have both these paints and would probably paint it in exactly the same way if I would be starting from scratch! The blood looked quite poor, so I reworked this using some Tamiya Clear red for the glossy areas and some purple/brown/black washes for the more dried looking areas.

And here are the images that I used for my inspiration all those years ago:

Paolo Uccello's St. George and the Dragon. I'd love to add the maiden and a cave to complete the diorama.

Raphael's version. Here you can see why I originally painted the armour black and how I got the idea for the broken lance embedded in the dragon's torso.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A mutated troll for Frostgrave

This conversion was originally made for a warband rolled up on the Realm of Chaos charts (I think for the old PapaNurgle forum competition). It's a LotR troll with a sculpted Fimir face and sculpted tentacles (using small beads as the suckers). The axe head is from a Shaggoth and I also sculpted the haft and the breastplate (loosely based upon Fimir / Celtic designs). I wish I had a wip photo to show..

So he's been re-purposed to be used as a (chaotic/mutated) troll for my games of Frostgrave and therefore another one ticked off from my bestiary challenge. 

It's quite a good feeling to go through some old, incomplete and unassigned models and find a purpose for them; he feels loved again (and after all that sculpting I couldn't just let him go to waste).

Monday, 6 February 2017

BitzBox Warband Characters

To continue the slow work of finishing my bitzbox warband, I can now introduce the two lesser characters to accompany the previously showcased minions; 

Darn the Veiled (Marauder, Mark of Nurgle, Horns, Heavy Armour and Shield)

Araf (Level 5 Beastman, Mark of Nurgle, Bestial Face (dog) limb loss (leg), Demonic Steed (Skull Face, Horn)

As you can see I've rolled up the Chaos Attributes from the great Lost and the Damned tome and gone about converting them to match the rolls. I've now finally got around to painting them too:

You may recognise a few of the multitude of bitz used here (go on play the game, you know you want to), and you may also identify with where my inspiration came from for Aruf; namely the Groot character below, which I believe was modelled and painted by Mike Mcvey.

His steed is a direct copy of this Tony Ackland illustration from the Chaos Spawn section from the LatD. Originally I was going to sculpt on the scaly skin (I forgot), then I remembered and was going to use crackle medium (I forgot again) so in the end I painted a furry kind of texture to break up the large, flat areas of horse body. I wished I had sculpted the scales on though, it would have looked better and more in keeping with the original illustration.

Darn is a simpler conversion, using a Chaos Warrior body, with a Knight of Nurgle head and some greenstuffing to the new addition of a shield.

And the two of them gallivanting through some quite familiar territory. 

The next and final piece of my Bitzbox Warband is the leader mounted onto a palanquin; I'm slightly daunted by the size and intricacy of it, so it may take some time. I plan to finish a few other quick projects alongside it to break up such a large project.